History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Maurice D. O'Connell
MAURICE D. O'CONNELL has, for more than thirty years, been one of the foremost lawyers in northern Iowa. He was born in Franklin County, New York, on the 23d of April, 1839. His education was acquired at the public schools and Franklin Academy, Malone. For several years he taught school in the counties of Franklin, St. Lawrence and Clinton. He entered upon the study of law in the office of George E. Clark of Plattsburg and took the law course in Columbian University at Washington, D. C., graduating in the class of 1866. He received the appointment of chief of a division in the department of the Comptroller of the Currency, serving two years. In September, 1869, he went west, locating at Fort Dodge, Iowa, then a village of a few hundred inhabitants. He was young, full of courage and enthusiasm and from the start won his way to a good practice. He was an active Republican in those exciting years of reconstruction and one of the most eloquent public speakers in northwest Iowa. In 1871 he was nominated by the Republicans for a seat in the Legislature; the county was very close politically and John F. Duncombe was the Democratic candidate. He was one of the earliest settlers of Fort Dodge, knew every voter in the district personally, was an able man and lawyer and received enough Republican votes to give him a small majority. In 1871 Mr. O'Connell was chosen District Attorney for the Eleventh Judicial District, serving four years. In 1881 he was appointed United States District Attorney for Iowa, holding the position until Cleveland became President, when he resigned. After the election of President Harrison, Mr. O'Connell was again appointed to his former position. On the 6th of July, 1897, he received the appointment by President McKinley of Solicitor of the Treasury Department of the United States. Twenty-eight years before, the unknown young lawyer left the Capital, having little besides his profession to rely upon; now he returned at the call of the President to assume one of the most responsible places in the Treasury Department, in the direct line of the profession to which he had closely adhered through all of the intervening years.